The Chinese People’s Liberation Army launched its first joint combat drills in 2023 around Taiwan, a move Taiwan’s defense ministry called “irrational and provocative.”
The PLA Eastern Theater Command said it “organized the joint combat-readiness security patrol and real-combat exercise involving troops of multiple services and arms in the waters and airspace around the Taiwan Island” on Sunday, the second such drills in less than a month.
The previous “joint combat-readiness security patrol and joint firepower striking exercise” was conducted by the same Command on Christmas Day.
This time, the drills “focused on land strikes, sea assaults and other subjects” in order to “resolutely counter the collusive and provocative acts of the external forces and the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces,” the army said.
On Thursday the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon sailed through the waters between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, angering Beijing.
China considers Taiwan a breakaway province that will be reunited with the mainland, by force if needed, and strongly protests against the “involvement in the Taiwan issue by external forces.”
The previous drills, on Dec. 25, came two days after U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law a bill allowing up to U.S.$2 billion in loans to help Taiwan boost military capabilities against threats from China.
Analysts say the latest military exercises may not necessarily target Taiwan but “external forces” such as the United States and Japan.
Jie Zhong, a scholar at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research, told RFA Mandarin he believed “the main purpose of the drills is